Infused Oils vs. Essential Oils

Are essential oils safe?

Are essential oils safe for skincare?

What's the difference between an infused herbal oil and an essential oil and why don't we use any essential oil in our products? 

When I started out in skincare, I was working for a company that used essential oils in their products. It's common practice - not just among natural skincare companies, or even skincare in general - but there's an abundance of products on the market today with essential oils in their ingredient labels. 

At first, it seemed like an obvious choice. Essential oils smell amazing, effectively masking any other odors in the product's ingredients, you only need a small bit of them per batch, they are relatively shelf-stable and easy to work with. Overall, they were definitely the easy way out when it came to formulating a great-smelling product. We used them for over a year because of this convenience. 

However, as I studied more about herbalism, I ran into a bit of a controversy concerning the oils. There was a divide among renowned herbalists concerning these potent little plant oils that struck my interest. After much research and consideration for I eliminated them from my personal routines and then began researching and running trials to figure out how to eliminate them from the company's entire product line as well. 

When I began plans for Wilde Flora Herbals, a key idea I wanted to build the brand around was offering products that were essential oil alternatives. Not only do we formulate our products without adding in essential oils, but we offer up wonderful, potent, house made plant extracts that still enable you to enjoy the aroma and benefits of herbs, but at a much safer and effective dosage.

essential oil alternatives, essential oil free products

Why we formulate without essential oils.

We respect that everyone has their own perspective on the proper use of essential oils, so we won't elaborate too much, but here are a few key reasons we chose to go another route. 

First, we couldn't justify the massive amount of plant materials that are wasted to make such a small quantity of essential oils. In our opinions, God designed plants in a way that would be accessible to us in their simplest forms, not requiring us to get our hands on hundreds of pounds of herbs.

We value looking to the simplest forms of herbal applications first. Why use a peppermint essential oil on an upset tummy when a warming glass of peppermint tea could do the trick? Why cook with oregano oil when you could simply cook with the fresh or dried herb? So we applied this to our skincare as well. Was there a way we could draw out the plant's benefits and aroma with just a handful of herbs in our own kitchen? Yes!

What is an Infused Oil?

This is where infused oils come in. Herbal infused oils are made by filling a jar with the fresh or dried herb and simply covering it with a carrier oil, such as olive or jojoba oil. The herb and oil meld together over the course of a month or more as the oil extracts the oil-soluble plant constituents, including traces of essential oil!

Second, the essential oil captures only about a third of the plant's properties, whereas an infused oil captures constituents that aren't found in the essential oil, giving them a broader spectrum of applications. Additionally, some plants - such as calendula - don't have an essential oil in them but are amazing herbs for skincare. Infused oils can utilize these additional herbs and make them accessible for topical application.

Third, because essential oils are so concentrated, many people find that they have sensitivities to them. When I was on my honeymoon, I had a reaction to lavender essential oil (which is generally considered safe and mild) and had a huge rash on my leg for the remainder of the trip. I'm not alone, though, many people are sensitive to them without even realizing. Generally, when a label says "no artificial fragrances" people who are sensitive to fragrances trust that they will be a good choice, but this isn't always the case. Herbal infused oils can be used by these people without inciting a reaction (unless, of course, you're actually allergic to the specific herb). 

Fourth, because essential oils are used in SO many products - we're talking shampoo, toothpaste, soap bars, candles, cleaning products, as preservatives in food, and more - we're burdening our bodies with a toxic overload. Even if the oils are diluted properly in each product (which they generally are not), they add up quickly. In this day and age, our bodies have enough toxins to deal with, we feel it's best not to add anything else to that workload. But first, we need to understand what an essential oil is.

What is an essential oil? 

An essential oil is known as the "essence" of the plant. Its job in the chemical makeup of the plant is to attract pollinators and deter pests, this is why they attribute so strongly to the smell, taste and color of a plant (making them fun little plant essences to collect) but also why they are so strongly antimicrobial, killing away precious bacteria in your gut flora - a balance which we greatly value as part of overall good health. Many studies have been done to establish them as an alternative to antibiotics due to their strong bactericidal abilities.

If we're crafting a product for daily topical use, this is not something we want to be introducing as an ingredient. We prefer to offer up a milder herbal application. Essential oils were originally introduced for their use in aromatherapy, and we highly recommend using them only in settings where a licensed aromatherapist is giving you informed instruction on how they are to be applied.   

However, it's easy to understand why everyone is using them in their products. It's the easy way out to impart a scent and accomplish some other tasks. Herbal infused oils simply do not have as strong a scent as an essential oil will, for obvious reasons. Some people appreciate that the scent is not so overwhelming, but some are used to using products that are saturated with artificial fragrances or essential oils and may have to adjust when using something more neutral. We decided collectively this is a learning curve that we were willing to take on in favor of keeping these concentrated fragrances out of our products. 

Our hope is that you can be confident that all Wilde Flora Herbal products safeguard your health by providing the most non-toxic, carefully formulated skincare options for daily, long-term use. 

Copyright Wilde Flora Herbals.

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"This moisturizer is pure luxury!  It is light, creamy and goes on smoothly.  The smell is subtle and not overpowering.  I use it at night and my skin looks nourished and radiant in the morning.  This has really been a game changer in my skincare routine! "

-Lynette